CLEARWATER, Fla. – Dominoes are about to fall in the Phillies’ infield, but Freddy Galvis is not fretting.
“Everything is good,” he said with a smile. “I just have to keep playing my same way. I don’t make the decisions. I play baseball. Wherever I am -- if they send me to low A -- I’ll play baseball. It’s all I want to do.”
The Phils have three legitimate candidates -- Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt -- for two backup infield jobs. Betancourt is in camp on a minor-league deal. The Phillies must tell him by the end of the day Sunday whether he will be on the 25-man roster. If he’s not going to make the team, he can opt out of his contract and sign elsewhere.
With an aging infield, Phillies officials wouldn’t mind keeping Betancourt in the system for depth.
But would they be willing to risk getting Frandsen, a valuable bat off the bench, through waivers to do that?
Or would they simply take the path of least resistance and option Galvis to Triple A where the 23-year-old infielder would benefit from playing every day?
Or will they decide to get something for Betancourt in a trade before he walks?
Clues will be offered Sunday.
“They’re great players,” Galvis said of Frandsen and Betancourt. “It’s a tough decision. I’m young. I’d like to be with the team and be a utility guy.
"But if I go to Triple A it would be good for me, too -- get a whole season of playing every day.
“I trust their decision. I’ve been here since I was 16. They knew me when I was 14 when they scouted me. I know I’m in good hands whatever they do with me.”
Sending Galvis down would not be a popular decision with some club officials. Manager Charlie Manuel has made it clear that he’d like to have Galvis on the club.
“Freddy’s a tremendous ballplayer,” Manuel said earlier in camp. “I think he can help us more getting 250 at-bats in the majors than 450 in the minors.”
If Galvis opens with the big team, he could get time at shortstop and second base when Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley get days off. Manuel is not one to give his big guys a lot of rest, but he may have to this year. Both his starting middle infielders are 34 and Utley has a degenerative knee condition that needs to be managed. Galvis could also get time at third base, particularly if Manuel pulls Michael Young for defensive reasons late in games.
Then again, Betancourt could do this, too. He has been a regular shortstop for three big-league clubs and is hitting .435 (20-for-46) with three doubles and 11 RBIs this spring.
Galvis does not believe playing in a part-time role will hurt his development, but he leaves no doubt what his eventual goal is.
“At some point in my career I want to be a regular player,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s one year, two years or three years from now. I’m trying to work hard to be ready for the opportunity.”
A wizard with the glove, Galvis has long been considered Rollins’ successor at shortstop, whenever that time comes. But Galvis could end up being a regular at another position sooner than shortstop. Utley is in the final year of his contract. His health and production this season will determine his future with the club. It’s possible Galvis could be this team’s second baseman in a year.
Galvis showed he could play second base while Utley was out with an injury last season. Galvis played the position until early June when he went down with a back injury. GM Ruben Amaro said he was “arguably the best defensive second baseman in the league” while he was active. Not long after suffering the back injury, Galvis was suspended by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
“That’s in the past,” he said. “It’s 2013 now, a new year.”
Where will Galvis open the new year?
We could find out soon.